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Osagyefo Dr.

Kwame Nkrumah
· First Prime Minister and President of the Republic of Ghana

With: A.B. CHINBUAH

IN December 1947, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah arrived in the Gold Coast. Mr. Justice R.S.
Blay was at the Takoradi Harbour to welcome the new General-Secretary and to hos
t him.
Before moving to Saltpond to officially start his work Dr. Nkrumah continued to
live in Mr. Justice Blay s house in Sekondi where he used to interact a lot with h
is adult children, Adue, Aleyefe and others, and played games with the younger o
nes, Mokowa, Afo and Lulu Blay. They all admired him and enjoyed his company. Mr
. Justice Blay used to transport him in his long grey American Ford saloon car f
or the united Gold-Coast Convention (UGCC) meetings at Saltpond.
It was the practice of Mr. Justice Blay to stop at our house (A.B. Chinbuah s fami
ly house) at Aboom Wells s road in Cape Coast to and from the meetings, to spend h
ours with my father, Alfred Ernest Chinbuah, to discuss affairs of the nation. T
hus, my siblings and I got to know Dr. Nkrumah well in those days. He was then a
very humble, quiet, down-to-earth ordinary person and very handsome with a long
forehead and unparted hair which became the fashion of the day and even today.
He looked forward to his new job as the General-Secretary of the UGCC.
He assumed duty as General-Secretary at Saltpond in January 1948. Shortly after
assuming office, riots broke out in Accra and other parts of the country, follow
ing the shooting of ex-servicemen at the Christiansborg Castle cross roads by Su
pt. Imray on February 28, 1984. The leadership of the UGCC sent a cable to the s
ecretary of state for the colonies, Sir Creech Jones, for a transfer of governme
nt to the UGCC. Governor Sir Gerald Creasy declared a state of emergency and had
troops flown in from Nigeria to quell the riots in the country.
Dr. Nkrumah, Dr. J.B. Danquah, Lawyer Obetsebi-Lamptey, Lawyer Akuffo-Addo, Lawy
er Ako Adjei and Mr. William Ofori Atta who became popularly known as the Big Six
were arrested and detained on March 12, 1948.
The British Government appointed the Watson Commission in April 1948 to enquired
into the circumstances that led to the riot. The Big Six were released on the ord
ers of the Watson Commission in April 1948 to appear before it. On their release
Dr. Kwame toured the whole country, riding on the waves of the popularity of th
e UGCC and the Big Six of which he was member. He opened new branches of the UGCC
throughout the country and increased the membership immensely. He became exposed
to the masses on a personal level and they looked to him. During this period he
established the Ghana National College. At the same time he set up the Committe
e for Youth Organisation within the UGCC to involve the youth of the country in
the struggle for independence. Within a year and a half of starting work as Gene
ral Secretary he had established himself as Mr. Convention and was the most popula
r among the UGCC leaders. He founded newspapers to propagate his political belie
fs and philosophy and put his own men like Mr. K.A. Gbedemah, Mr. Botsio and Mr.
Kofi Baako in charge of them. By the time the other leading members of the UGC
C realized it, the UGCC was Dr. Nkrumah and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was the UGCC . It
was too late to stop him or sack him. The very day her was demoted from General-
Secretary to Treasurer, the newspaper he founded, the Accra Evening News, appear
ed on the streets of Accra. On June 12, 1949 he resigned from the UGCC and went
away with the masses to form the Convention People s Party (CPP).
The rally held in Accra to announce the formation of the party attracted a huge
crowd. Branches of the party were then opened all over the country and the UGCC
was relegated to second place as a mass movement. He was the first to introduce
open air rallies in the country. Before then, politicians used to hold their mee
tings in town halls, church halls and cinema halls. They used to speak in Englis
h and their speeches were interpreted in the local language and only a few peopl
e came to hear these politicians speak. The CPP open air rallies were very excit
ing. There was much singing and dancing with bands in attendance. It always bega
n from one end of the town to the rally grounds. The whole town was attracted to
the rally. It was joy and happiness to the people and everybody got involved.
Slogans and simple catchy phrases were shouted to the hearing of everybody and t
he crowd enthusiastically responded. In the evening around 55 p.m. the leaders a
ppeared with Dr. Nkrumah in their midst, standing in an open top propaganda van
painted in CPP colours; red, while and green. He would wave his horse swish (Bod
ua) and a white handkerchief, the crowd went into a frenzy and pandemonium broke
out. It was a new phenomenon in those days. He swept the whole country behind h
im.
At a result, by the time the Coussey Report was published in October 1949, the C
PP with its leader had become a formidable force to reckon with. The CPP and its
leadership described the report as bogus and fraudulent because it did not recomm
end the granting of independence forthwith. Dr. Nkrumah and his CPP therefore re
jected the report and when the Gold Coast Legislative Council accepted the repor
t, they threatened a campaign of Positive Action.
The government did not heed to the CPP demand so the CPP declared Positive Actio
n at a massive rally at Arena meant that all workers except the hospital staff a
nd essential services staff were to lay down their tools until the demand by the
CPP for immediate self-government with dominion status had been granted by the
British Government.
The strike started slowly and then gathered momentum. When it became extremely s
erious and covered the whole country, the government acted swiftly by arresting
Dr. Nkrumah, the staff the Accra Evening News and other sister papers in the reg
ions, from January 17 to 22, 1950. Dr. Nkrumah and the entire leadership of the
CPP, except Mr. Gbedemah who was in prison already for having been previously co
nvicted for sedition, were tried, convicted and sentenced to various terms of im
prisonment. Dr. Nkrumah was sentenced to one-year imprisonment for each of the t
hree charges leveled against him, two in Accra and one in Cape-Coast, to be serv
ed consecutively. As Dr. Nkrumah and his colleagues languished in jail, the new
constitution based on the Coussey Committee was accepted and general elections w
ere declared to be held on February 8, 1951.
Even though the CPP had rejected the Cousssey Constitution and condemned the ele
ctions. Under the acting chairmanship of Mr. Gbedemah, the CPP launched a fierce
campaign throughout the country and won the election. Dr. Nkrumah won his seat
in Accra Central.
As a result of the CPP victory in the general election, the Governor, Sir Charle
s Noble Arden-Clark, ordered the release of Dr. Nkrumah from prison. On February
12, 1951, he was released from the James Fort Prison. His supporters met him an
d sent him to Arena where a massive rally was held to welcome him. He met the Go
vernor at Christiansborg Castle the following day. The Governor asked Dr. Nkruma
h to form a government. This he did. However, the colonial government included t
hree British ex-officio members and he himself was appointed leader of governmen
t business. Shortly after assuming office in 1951, an amendment to the constitut
ion led to his appointment as Prime Minister on March 21, 1952.
As a result of a motion by Dr. Nkrumah on July 10, 1953, for constitutional refo
rms, there had to be an election in 1954. On the day of election on June 15, 195
4 he was very apprehensive and lonely, so he accepted an invitation from a close
friend, a white lady, to come to her flat to listen to the radio as the results
were announced. He jumped at the invitation and went. They had supper together
and listened to the radio for the results, but anxiety crept in and Dr. Nkrumah
wanted to go to the Polo Grounds to see things for himself. So off they went and
there he saw everything, but due to his disguise he was not recognized. When it
appeared he had won the election, he went home highly elated. When the official
results were announced, he had indeed won the elections.
Soon after the 1954 elections, there emerged a strong opposition movement known
as the National Liberation Movement (N.L.M.) which demanded a federal form of go
vernment and was a strong challenge to the CPP. As each party was intransigent i
n its position and both parties had resorted to violence in pushing their politi
cal agenda with the result that the Prime Minister could not even visit Ashanti
Region, the British government had to resolve the problem that had arisen. There
was also the question of the British Togoland under United Nations Trusteeship.
For all these reasons there had to be a plebiscite and a general election in Ma
y 1956 and July 1956 respectively. The CPP won the plebiscite and the general el
ection.
On August 23, 1956, Dr. Nkrumah made a formal request to the Governor for onward
transmission to the Secretary of State for the colonies, Rt. Hon. A.T. Lennox-B
oyd, to give a firm date for independence. On September 17, 1956, Governor Sir C
harles Arden-Clark called Dr. Nkrumah to the Castle and handed over to him a dis
patch from Rt. Hon. Lennox-Boyd, Secretary of State for the colonies. It contain
ed the date for independence, March 6, 1957.
Dr. Nkrumah was so overwhelmed with the news that he asked the governor to keep
the dispatch till the next day. On the following day September 18, 1956, he anno
unced the contents of the dispatch to the Legislative Assembly. The House was at
first stunned. They could not believe their ears, then all of a sudden they bur
st out in prolonged cheers and carried him shoulder high, singing and dancing to
the CPP song: There is victory for us . The whole nation also joined in the jubila
tion when they heard it. Preparations began immediately for the celebration of I
ndependence Day. On the eve of Independence, on March 5, 1957, Dr. Nkrumah, Mr.
Gbedemah, Mr. Botsio, Mr. Archie Casely-Hayford, Mr. Krobo Edusei, as well as Mr
. N.A. Wellbeck, mounted a podium at the old Polo Grounds opposite the Legislati
ve Assembly Building, just before, midnight, to announce the attainment of indep
endence to a vast crowd that had assembled at the place. At the same time the Un
ion Jack came down as the Ghana flag went up as a symbol of Ghana s Independence.
The Ghana National anthem was played for the first time.
From 1951 up to 1966 when Nkrumah was the Leader of government Business, Prime M
inister and President, his government carried out a lot of developments. The edu
cational, social, economic, and health problems of the people were vigorously ta
ckled to achieve social justice, economic programmes, health solutions and educa
tional expansion.
Primary schools became fee-free and there was a tremendous increase in the numbe
r of primary, secondary, agricultural and trading schools, as well as technical
and teacher training colleges. Three universities were established; University o
f Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and University of Ca
pe Coast.
The housing problems were also dealt with through the development of estates in
almost all the regional capitals and Accra. It was the same in the field of comm
unication, where several roads were built in most parts of the country. Accra-Wi
nneba-Cape Coast road and Tema motorway were just two of the many roads built. T
akoradi-Accra railway line through Kotoku was built. So were the Accra-Tema rail
way line, Adomi and lower Volta Bridges over the Volta river were built. Tema Ha
rbour and township and Akosombo Dam and township were also built. For transporta
tion, the State Shipping Corporation (Black Star Line), Ghana Airways, State Tra
nsport Corporation and Omnibus Services Authority were also established.
Health facilities were provided throughout the country, a new Kumasi Central Hos
pital was built or expanded. Korle-Bu was expanded and turned into a teaching ho
spital for the newly established medical school. On the industrial front many in
dustries were established throughout the country most of them being in the Great
er Accra Region. At the agricultural front, a fishing corporation equipped with
trawlers, cold stores and fishing harbours, palm oil, coconut, rubber plantains
and state farms were established. The cocoa industry was also tremendously impro
ved and expanded. The Ghana Army, navy and Air-force for the defence of the coun
try were also established and expanded. The courts were also expanded and new co
urts built, a law school was established and a new law faculty came into existen
ce at the University of Ghana, Legon. In short, the strong foundation underpinni
ng Ghana s development is a product of Nkrumah s government s vision and commitment.
In 1958 Dr. Kwame Nkrumah tied the knot with Madam Helen Ritz Fathia of Egypt at
the Osu Castle. Fathia, thus became the First Lady of Ghana in 1960, when Dr. N
krumah was sworn in as the First President of Ghana.
Dr. Nkrumah was also the African leader who spearheaded the liberation of almost
all the colonial African countries, and by the end of his rule in Ghana, most A
frican nations had obtained Independence or were on the verge of shedding off th
e shackles of imperialism. He sent troops to Congo to aid Prime Minister Patrice
Lumumba, and was prepared to go to all the hot sports of Africa to aid the mass
es suffering at the hands of their racial segregationists and colonial master. H
e saw to the demise of the white ruled Rhodesia Federation, out of which came Za
mbia, Malawi and Zimbabwe all of which are now ruled by Africans.
The cornerstone of his African policy was African Liberation from colonization a
nd African Unity. In April 1958, he held a meeting of Independent African States
in Accra for a discussion on matters of mutual interest. The success of this co
nference was followed by the All African People Conference in December 1958. Thi
s attracted leaders from both independent and dependent African nations. In 1959
he and President Sekou Toure formed the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union when President
Modibo Keita of Mali made Mali part of the union.
An establishment of other African groups led to the formation of the Organisatio
n of African Unity (O.A.U.) on 25th May 1963 at Addis Ababa, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah w
as a great crusader of the African Union and at the 1963 1964 conference in Addi
s Ababa and Cairo, he spoke so fervently and zealously to convince the other lea
ders of Africa that the union must be established as soon as possible. At the Ac
cra conference in 1965 he wanted the union there and then, but unfortunately for
him, commitment to the union did not exist among his fellow African leaders.
At the end of the conference one Head of State was so happy and relieved that he
was returning home still as Head of State of his country, and to make sure that
this was so, he sent a message ahead to his Ministers, police and force command
ers to line up at the foot of the plane when he arrived. They were also to make
sure that his motorcade and sirens were ready to whisk him away to the comfort o
f his home. Dr. Nkrumah had scared him by his vigorous speech of African Unity n
ow! Which if pursued to its logical conclusion, would have meant that he would c
ease to be Head of State of his country and lose all the privileges that went wi
th it.
On the world stage, he was the single African leader well known everywhere and h
e made a very great impact on the Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Countries and th
e United Nations, as well as the Western and the Eastern Bloc countries.
But not all was rosy in Nkrumah s Ghana. From 1957 1966 he had a number of repressiv
e laws enacted by Parliament, one of which was the Preventive Detention Act of 1
958. This law empowered the government to detain any body for not more than five
years without trial. It was subsequently amended in 1962 which extended the det
ention period indefinitely. This law was abused and many of Kwame Nkrumah s percei
ved detractors suffered under his obnoxious law, and some like Dr. J.B. Danquah
and Mr. Obetsebi Lamptey two of the Big Six , died in detention under this law. He
also brought into being a one-party sate through a referendum in 1964. He founde
d an ideological institute in Winneba, where his brand of socialism named Nkruma
ism was taught and studied as a social philosophy. He also set up the young pion
eers movement which was perceived as the same as the one in the U.S.S.R. to brai
nwash and indoctrinate the youth in Nkrumaism.
There were several assassination attempts on his life but Nkrumah survived them
all. The worst of it all was the Kulungugu attempt in 1962 in which he sustained
deep wounds at his back. He therefore avoided open air rallies and rarely made
public appearances. In the end he fortified his office and residence with specia
l presidential guards. On 24th February, 1966, whilst he was on a mission to Nan
oi, the Military overthrew him by a coup de etat.
He went into exile in Guinea but fought for his return to Ghana by daily radio b
roadcasts for Ghanaians to rise up against the military regime. He also wrote a
number of books to discredit the coup makers all in an attempt for an uprising i
n Ghana against the military junta and pave the way for his return but nothing c
ame out of all these attempts.
In his lifetime he authored a number of books. Among them are:
1. Towards Colonial Freedom, 1946
2. Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah, 1957
3. I Speak of Freedom: A Statement of African Ideology 1961.
4. Africa Must Unite, 1963
5. Consciencism Last State if Imperialism, 1965.
6. Neocolonialism Last State of Imperialism, 1965.
7. Challenge of the Congo: A Case Study of Foreign Pressures in an Independ
ent State, 1967.
8. Dark Days in Ghana, 1968.
9. Handbook of revolutionary Warfare, 1968.
On 27th April 1972, he died in Bucharest, Romania. He was given a state funeral-
service in Conakry, Guinea by President Sekou Toure of Guinea. His body was brou
ght home after many negotiations with the Guinean President, who initially refus
ed to release the body to Ghana. In Ghana, he was given a state funeral-service
and buried at Nkroful his hometown. His body is now reburied at the Kwame Nkruma
h Mausoleum in Accra.
There is no doubt that in spite of his shortcomings in the realm of human rights
, he is an icon and a hero whose name has been written in letters of gold and wi
ll forever be remembered in this country, Africa and the world. His legacy is gi
gantic and has left his footprints in the sands of time. He would be counted amo
ng the great leaders of the 20th Century like Mahatma Ghandi of India and Mao Ts
e-Tung of China.
*Source:
Daily Graphic - Friday, September 7, 14 & 21, 2007 Pages: 11,11
& 11

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